Jon Dishotsky likes to tell the story of how he grew up in a co-housing compound, of a sort. His father, a Stanford professor, hosted dozens of students over the years, who paid low rent and cycled in and out of his suburban Palo Alto home. They’d share meals with his family and pitch in to take care of Dishotsky when his parents were busy. They helped build a zip line. It was a kind of ad-hoc community; he’s still in touch with some of these ex-students.
Dishotsky, the co-founder/CEO of the start-up Starcity, is now working to fill America’s housing-strapped cities with a scaled-up version of his childhood idyll. Since launching in 2016, the company has broken ground on seven developments in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In most Starcity buildings, renters get a furnished 130- to 220-square-foot bedroom and share a communal kitchen and living space. In a addition to a “generous bathroom to room ratio,” the company touts a range of Millennial-friendly amenities, including an honor library, “locally sourced foliage,” and Bob Ross painting nights. Rents range from $1,400 to $2,400 a month. “We’ll make the living arrangements delightful and sustainable so that people can stay in cities long-term,” Starcity’s website promises. “We will do this by redefining the meaning of home.”